“Right now I’m having amnesia and déjà vu at the same time. I think I’ve forgotten this before.” ― Steven Wright
Memories are a funny thing. They are sculpted by us and the context in which we remember them. They are influenced by so many factors and change over time. This past weekend I helped go through a for sale house. Needless to say, everything is a box full of memories.
Most of these memories are not my own … or so it would seem. It is amazing how the human mind works tying events together non-contiguously. Seeing how different people reacted to different finds set moods within the room that were infectious and, of course, set off my own memorial experiences. Rattling it was.
At one point I was tasked with going through foot lockers and storage chests. Generally, these things rule for finds to begin with and just going through them encapsulates some amazing stuff. Unpacking them reminded me of my mom unpacking my grandfather’s detached in olde Elizabeth after his passing, when we went through the attic that was set up with his trains and other hobbies and found a dead mouse that sent her into a tizzy. I know where my stuff is and honestly, it made me kind of sad that I feel I have a foot locker’s worth of memories I feel comfortable with to move and moreso I wonder what might be my memory itself if someone found my stuff. Then, I realize it’s not what I put away, it’s how others interpret what they find based on their precept.
Buried under piles of mass cards and other artifacts was a long forgotten stack of records in one of the foot lockers.
It was the motherlode for someone like myself. I’ve done these kind of house cleanings before and they always yield transcendent finds: A combination of classics that spans several eras and touches emotional points that make you quiver. What people retain of music can be truly defining of the kind of person they are. The quality of the stack was mediocre in its keep but that’s little the point as history should be well worn. There was a series of the Beatles LPs to cry over, and believe me I did, since nearly every song trips some kind of memory circuit from my childhood through wedding planning, with even a few slated for the ceremony itself at this point. Then, there was a Swing multidisc comp series that made my head spin. It was bound in a box with individual pull out sleeves and the top disc, Mr. Benny Goodman himself. It was genius and triggered thoughts of my childhood that were enlivening throughout the day for me. Perhaps for others more intrigued by kitchenware and Italian paraphernalia it wasn’t as important, but the vinyl was like a Mississippi dredge for me, and gave me an even higher view of everything.
Perhaps you remember my entry a Record of Life, or you generally know from me I try to write everything down (if it’s not written somewhere it doesn’t exist!). Another great find in the lockers were some cards that detailed the history of the locker itself, down to the sourcing of the wood pre-move and the first address it was unpacked at. Hidden with also were a series of journals that documented past family trips. These kinds of finds are alluring and exhilarating. Honestly, most of the writing was not the most riveting stuff, however, to hear it read aloud by family members, to have the post cards and other memories to go along with them, it is difficult not to be floored by the experience. There’s a part of me that wanted to immediately insist regardless of anyone elses preference those pages be secured, scanned digitally and then sealed away for future generations to have access to as well. It also made me sad I don’t physically write more (then I remembered, my handwriting isn’t that good with either limb and pains are inevitable in the previously broken one) but there’s a value to what the precept of having kept a chronicle represents – even if that chronicle represents hand written notes on how to jump start your car that were incorrect enough to inadvertently jump you to heaven.
Finally, maybe you remember my diatribe on coffee well, the first thing I was offered from the family, knowing me undying love of food, particularly tastes like coffee, was an old school percolation pot. Want to win my heart? Next to a glass of scotch, a splendid cup of coffee is to die for, truly. Percs have gone out of style and generally are hard to find still outside of certain communities but I remember them being pulled out for the holidays in my youth all the time. Even today, I direly look forward to the holidays when my mom and step-dad pull out the Perc at the end of a meal. It is beyond genius how damned good that cup of coffee tastes but moreso how good it smells and it’s permeation throughout the house.
What we cling to as memories are crafted by what is left and by what that means to us. No departing person, no matter how thoughtful, can will away anything precisely to anyone and yet what they leave can have profound accidental or rather incidental affects on everyone that comes across it. And, that’s my affirmation for today, it’s important for me to ensure I leave something but what its effect is is ultimately valued but the receiver not by my intent.